you ever recognized the theater in your groups meetings?
Think about it for a moment the boardroom is the stage,
the participants are the characters and the meeting discussion
is the script. Just like meetings, theater involves communication,
interaction between characters, conflict, drama, double meanings,
foreshadowing and, hopefully, problem resolution.
To be effective when working together, we need to identify our teammates
character types and learn how to work best with them. As you read about these
common characters, youll immediately identify the heroes and villains
from your own meetings. But also ask yourself, "Which character am I?"
If you discover youre more like Distracted Donna than Supportive Susan,
dont fret. When it comes to meetings, theres a little bit of hero
and villain in all of us.
Ivan the Inventor
He has initiative and imagination. He gets things started and offers
ideas and solutions. He loves discovering the latest, greatest idea and
being recognized as the creative genius. But he can have an extra-large ego
and always requires recognition for what he contributes. Try to involve him
as early as possible on any issue requiring a creative solution. Think of Ivan
as the right side of your brain, the creative, intuitive side you or others
in your group may be lacking.
Although hes not as creative as Ivan, hes certainly gifted
at providing realistic direction for the group. Hes very focused and doesnt
easily get carried away with the excitement of a new idea. He understands whats
feasible and whats unrealistic perhaps to a fault since he only
sees things in black and white. Although hes the healthy dose of reality
every group needs, Ralph can be dangerous if hes feeling pessimistic.
Hell find a reason why every idea wont work in the real world. Remind
him that the group is simply throwing around ideas for now, and judgments and
evaluations should be discussed later.
Fran the Facilitator
Shes great at clarifying an argument or idea without offending
the speaker and very capable of interpreting and restating the groups
position. She isnt afraid to ask questions and her inquiries make all
points-of-view crystal clear. However, she can have trouble coming to a decision
since she sees the good in both sides of every argument. While shes excellent
at moving an argument forward with her neutral perspective, dont look
to her too early in a debate because she may facilitate before any real conflict
has materialized. Look to her when theres a deadlock in the discussion.
Matthews often older, wiser and more experienced than other meeting
participants. He has a natural talent for reducing tension with a joke or humorous
perspective. Although this method doesnt necessarily get to the bottom
of the issues, it certainly helps to lighten the mood during intense moments.
Invite him to meetings you know might be stressful. His comments make everyone
realize that the crisis being discussed isnt the end of the world
even though it may seem like it at the time.
Shes a supportive personality with a word of encouragement for
all. Susan can easily find the positive in every statement, no matter how ridiculous.
She encourages others to develop ideas and make suggestions, and she offers
recognition for these ideas. She feels its her responsibility to make
sure no one is left out of the discussion shell even ask quiet
members for their opinions. She may have trouble with hard choices, but unless
she seeks responsibility, dont burden her. Shes a supporter because
thats what shes comfortable doing and shes good at
Sharon is painfully shy. She has a lot to offer the group, if you could
only get her to speak up! Try to make her feel as comfortable as possible during
your meeting. Start by asking her a simple question and make eye contact with
her as she answers to let her know her input is valued. Recognize her contribution
immediately and sincerely and encourage more. Shy people will open up, but only
after some time. Once she starts contributing great ideas, youll be happy
you were patient.
Andy questions everything, criticizes ideas and attacks people personally.
He wants attention and cant get it through other means, so he always takes
on the role of devils advocate. Andy sees problems but seldom offers solutions.
To discourage negative behavior, try early on to give him the attention he requires.
Ask for his ideas instead of allowing him to judge and criticize everyone elses.
This character likes to show her disinterest in the
meeting. She engages in side discussions, reads other materials
and generally attempts to remain uninvolved. Shes usually
harmless unless she also has tendencies of Andy the Aggressor,
in which case treat her as you would Andy. Basically she craves
attention so why not ask her to share her opinions of the
discussion at hand? This way, at least shes focused
on the meeting issues and not on social interaction.
Peter the Pompous
He thinks he knows everything. Peter manipulates every conversation
and seeks control. Sometimes he has great insights to share, but often he doesnt.
If hes confronted directly in the meeting, hell only seek more control
and become overbearing. Because Peter loves to share his knowledge, try to seek
his advice prior to the meeting. Hell love providing his expertise and
perhaps wont need to dominate the meeting discussion later. Try, finally,
to establish a meeting procedure that affords equal time to others so that you
dont have tell Peter to back off during the meeting.
Irene never speaks up in meetings because, simply put, she couldnt
be bothered. Shes easy-going to a fault and makes a point of always going
with the flow. She doesnt get involved in meeting discussions or offer
help or support to others. Frankly, meetings make her yawn and it requires too
much effort to get involved after all, its easier just to sit and
let everyone else do the talking. To get Irene more involved and interested,
ask her to plan and lead the next meeting.